Mexican Hat dance

I bimble around the garden muttering to myself as my youngest son sits in the shade in his underpants and a Mario baseball cap. He is busily occupied pushing playdough through the mesh table top, to form piles of neon spaghetti on the ground beneath. It’s a tough work out for feeble little fingers, but the texture is no longer torture.

He is a study in concentration, oblivious to my presence. It is a rare sight indeed to see him sitting. I suspect that the same mesh pattern may be imprinted elsewhere upon his person, testament to his increasing powers of endurance. “It is so hot! We really shouldn't be out in the sun you know.”
“I am not… dah sun,” he remarks, checking the dappled light through the foliage of the pergola.
“Hmm. I think I need a hat or something?”
“Big hat. Little cloves.”
It's a valid point but I am way beyond the age where a bikini can be a realistic option.
“I swear it must be 100 degree out here!”
“No swear! Bad to be swear.”
“Oh that's not swearing as such.”
“It is be dah figure of speech?”

I rip off the sweaty gardening gloves and step over to him. His minimalist approach to language and conversation is so often peppered with huge lumps of sophistication, if I were only paying attention.

Bookmark and Share

Different Strokes for different folks

We survive the first 45 minutes of her being ill, but then she follows me around like a rash.

She reminds me that she is bored at 3 minute intervals. This is my 'play with me, play with me, watch me, watch me,' child, not that I'm assigning a role of predestination for any of my children.

Perish the thought!

Although brothers generally fall into the category of 'pest,' when they are at school, somehow their company is so much more appealing.

“But I'm real bored Mom.”
“I know dear, but I'm very busy. Why don't you go and rest in your room.”
“But it's not like you're doin nothin.”
“Anything, dear, anything! As I said before, I have a great deal to do and the sooner I get it all done, the sooner I may have some free time. Why don't you go and rest in your room and think of three things that you'd like to do when I'm finished.”
She sighs and deflates against the wall, “whatya doin then that's more important than me an bein sick?” The tone of sarcasm isn't lost on me, but I decide to ignore it. It would appear to be an abuse of power to out sarcasm a sarcastic 10 year old.
“Well right now I'm putting all the boys' clothes back into the cupboard. I do it every day. It take about 20 minutes depending upon whether they accidentally tipped out the pyjamas too.”
“It sure is a big mess.”

I fold, refold, stack shelves and re-hang T-shirts under her watchful eyes.

“If I did that you'd be real mad at me, right?”
“Well it would depend upon why you'd messed up your closet?”
“It's not fair, they get to trash their closet every day and you just clean it all up!”
“Is that what you think?”
“It's always the same, you treat em different.”
“You're right, I do. Partly because you're older and partly because there are some things that they find a lot more difficult than you do. Sometimes they need more help.”
“It stinks.”
“Now I have a question for you!”
“Really! What?”
“When you were really little, we had a closet just like this one. Half of it was toys and half of it was clothes. Every day I would try and put you to bed for your nap. Instead of taking a nap like every other toddler in the entire universe, you'd climb the closet shelves and chuck everything out. Then you'd strip your bed. Every day. Now why do you suppose you did that?”
“Geez, I have no idea! What did you do?”
“Every day after your non existent nap, I'd come up here and you'd be sitting in your devastated room with a mischevious grin on your face. I would be so cross with you. Daddy and I decided that we'd just leave mess and put you to bed at night without the bed clothes.”
“I don't remember that either.”
“Well you wouldn't, because some time during the evening, once Daddy was home, I'd zip up here and straighten it all out. It took ages but I just couldn't put you to bed like that, it seemed too unkind.”
“Wow. How long did I do that for then?”
“What happened to stop it?”
“I gave up trying to get you to nap.”
“Why did I do that? It seems kinda weird.”
“Well, I think it's because you didn't have enough words to explain that you didn't want to nap and probably more importantly, that you didn't need a nap. You always were an energizer bunny.”

She slithers down the wall onto her hunkers, stares at the self portrait picture of her big sister. “Did she do weird stuff when she was little too?”
“Oh yes indeed. There’s not a child on the planet that doesn’t do “weird stuff” sometimes. The trick is to figure out the why? Once you know the ‘why’ it won’t be weird any more.”

Post script:-

Take one Lilo and Stitch video

Extract Elvis

Add birthday present CD and “Mix”

Alternative “Junior production.”

Cheers Debra!

Bookmark and Share

0 – 60 diddly squat

Children thrive on routine or so they say.

We nay sayers decided to adopt a more modern approach to our children. None of those strictures for our little free spirits. We planned to copy our laid back, easy going Californians cousins. No mean feat for the average Brit, and we are terribly average.

Despite our best endeavours, it soon became apparent that laid back was more like flat out, or rather, flat out chaos and a great many horizontal meltdowns. We went over to the dark side, made schedules and schooled our children to follow them. Schedules and routine produced predictability, and a certain degree of calm, or maybe just less chaos. Before too long we slipped into the groove. Before too much later, we found that the walls of the groove had grown so high that we were scrabbling around in the hollow, unable to deviate right or left. The schedule became iron clad. There was no room for spontaneity as the timetable was rigidly enforced, indirectly, by the children themselves.

It infiltrates every second of our existence, the necessity to maintain sameness. I hear that this is quite common, indeed my good pal describes her life as a perpetually reliving the same day, day after day. Sometimes we get “bogged down” in the mire. It’s hard to “escape” from the strictures of the schedule. There is no room for flexibility, merely crisis management.

Currently, our family experiences another peak in the “anxiety” roller coaster. It is exactly at such times, that it is imperative to maintain the routine.

Our routine is for me to arrive outside the boys' classroom at least five minutes before the end of the school day. I wait. When they come out, we meet and greet, exchange pleasantries and wait for their sister to join us. It is important to remain in the same safe 10 yard area and wait. Sometimes we wait a long time, as she is usually the last to leave.

I have learned that it is unwise to be impatient, foolish to seek her out with the boys in tow. I cannot leave the boys behind to wait on their own because they cannot wait and they cannot wait on their own.

The seconds tick by as we wait. As they tick, so the anxiety increases, “where is she be?”
“She'll be here any moment dear.”
“How many minutes? How many seconds. Is she be lost? Is she be selled?” He starts to suck his fingers and rock, small mewing noises get louder. I pull him onto my lap and he curls up small and tight. He slithers off and bolts. “We must be find her!” he yells as he charges off around the corner. I grab his brother and the backpacks as we scuttle off in hot pursuit.

It's only 25 yards away but the court yard is crampt with a sea of bodies, parents and children and siblings and strollers. I spot him, dressed in red from head to foot outside her open class room door, blocking the way as he peers inside. Every face in the classroom is turned towards the little boy in the entrance way, crouched, mewling and swaying. Wounded in distress. I slip through the crowd to him and point out his sister, a long straight arm to guide vision with a rude finger at the end. He yelps with glee as I herd him away to a safe distance to join his brother. His brother is gone. “Agh! Where is he been?”

I spot him ambling away in the opposite direction. We gallop after him. I can already see the lure, a baby. We catch up just in time. He's overtaken the mother, child and baby, to walk backwards in front of them whilst he asks questions to the mum but stares at the baby. I burble a torrent of compliments to the mum, child and baby. Yes, my nine year old is very fond of babies, all babies, and this is a particularly fine specimum of babydom, how could he resist?

Many parents have strong objections to large filthy children touching their purebred offspring, it's quite natural. Luckily, we are in luck. The mum permits touching, cooing, smiles and pats, very tender gentle ones. I prompt goodbye greetings, as busy mums can only be hindered and detained for a short periods of time. It can never be long enough for my son to get his baby fix.

I turn around with a firm grasp on each boy as we stride back to the classroom. The class room is empty. “Oh no! Where is she be. We are be lost her! You and yur stoopid babies. It's all yur fault.” The only reassurance that will work now is for him to see her, alive and well. Nothing else will placate him. The boys squabble as I haul them around the corner. They debate the merits of temporary relationships with strangers versus long term blood relations.

Animosity and anxiety vie for supremacy.

I see her waiting outside the boys' classroom in a state of confusion. I yell as I see her heels disappear around the corner as she returns to her own classroom. My son hangs on my arm, a dead weight, the child that cannot be hurried. I dither. Double back and cut her off at the pass or follow her around again? I shoulder two backpacks, secure my grip on the snotty hand, hoik the nine year old onto my hip and galumph back.

We stagger and stumble our way amid bleats and rooster crows of the truly desperate. I glimpse her again, just as she begins to retrace her steps but I lack enough oxygen to yell. The snotty one spots her too, slips from my grasp and careens over screaming her name at 50 decibels. I watch her turn, pause, tune in, align sight, open arms just in time to catch him as he collapses into her. A swoon, worthy of a Southern Belle. As we bring up the rear he has gained enough composure to machine peck kiss her inner wrist. He pants like a puppy, exhausted, “you are be alive!” he puffs.

Only just dearies, only just.

Bookmark and Share

Interior Design 101 and EMT's

We are fortunate indeed to live in the current era of casual living. Californians of course, do 'casual' so much better than any other people. As a general rule, Brits do not do ‘casual’ well. Whilst we excel at stiff and stuffy, casual is usually more of a character challenge.

An example may clarify the great divide. Let's take the phenomenon of 'the throw.' For those less ‘with it’ than me, I can tell you that a 'throw' is a blanket, but more fashionable than a mere blanket. A blanket belongs on a bed, whereas a throw is draped casually over furniture in any room. It's presence adds an air of casual.

Twenty years ago in England, there was no such thing as a throw. If you were exceptionally lucky there might have been an old car rug, tartan with a fringe. It remained folded neatly. It remained neatly folded unless you were unlucky enough to be ill and then be wrapped up in it's itchy, scratchy fibres, swaddled to contain your contamination.

Hence today, we find that modern Californian homes usually house at least one throw. Our Californian home has several, four to be exact. They are neatly folded on the corner of the couch. These four replace the previous four, which were used so frequently as to become bald. Now I know that you may have a couple of criticisms to throw at me here, that the 'folded' disqualifies me from the casual. It may just be that you have never worn out a throw and have difficulty understanding how they could be threadbare in less than a year?

Well, although my throws are indeed throws, they also fall into a much more important category, namely 'objet de déguisement.' They help unqualified Californians blend in with their surroundings. How? I'm glad you asked that. Say someone comes to call and our home is in it's usual state of filth and chaos. All I have to do is whip off the throws and drape them decorously over the spills and stains that adorn every room. Obviously, actively soggy patches have priority.

Additionally, and more importantly, they serve as EMT's.


The trouble is that we all have so much to learn and teach. Whilst we appear to have mastered gloves and sunglasses for the tactile defensive amongst us, other skills evade us. For instance, we are still actively working on 'sitting.' When we're concentrating on such tasks other skills fall by the wayside. It’s not easy to juggle gloves, sunglasses and sitting all at the same time.

But what about the EMT's?

Emergency Modesty Throws my friend.

Some small people do 'casual' even better than Californians?

I suspect that New Jersey’s “blue fleece” has more a more temperate function, but every bit as cuddly.

Bookmark and Share

And other small miracles

Our family lives in suburbia, or rather 5 sixths of us do.

California can be a deceptive State. People are familiar with the glories of San Francisco and the glitter of L.A. but the vastness is often missed. The greater part of the State is referred to as 'wilderness.' The 'wild' part of wilderness seems far more threatening than English countryside, tame, safe and comforting. This is where our 'sixth' spends the majority of her time, now that she is an adult and has choice. What else could I have expected from this ‘save a whale,’ ‘hug a tree,’ ‘stroke a banana slug’ kind of offspring? Although she is out in the wilds, modern technology keeps us connected through the telephone, although I would prefer her mobile to be nearer a cellular base station, or maybe just closer.

We talk late in the evening whilst small people slumber. We watch the same sunset, several hundreds of miles apart. She talks, I listen. I can hear the wind rush about her as she charges down a brush filled hill, rough terrain without a trail. She forges her own path as she talks and walks and weeps, the trials of youth, no longer trivial.

I learned that tears were a sign of weakness. I chose to teach a different lesson. Shed a tear, skip a gall stone.

Minutes tick by as the sun sets and darkness settles outside and in.

I remember my own tears on rare occasions. Dump the baggage, lighten the load.

My tears are rare because I know that they incapacitate me. They reduce me to an immobile soggy heap. This is the kind of multitasking that I cannot envisage.

To weep is to cease to function.

Weeping and talking, make a poor combination, too much gulping.

Weeping and walking! It's out of the question.

Weeping, walking and talking?

In the dark?

She's the closest thing to “Wonderwoman” that I've come across in this lifetime.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Bookmark and Share